Celtic’s Matt O’Riley has been reflecting on the disappointment at not being selected by Denmark for the World Cup.
Since arriving in Glasgow during the winter transfer window, O’Riley very quickly stood out as a top player and was selected to play for the Denmark under-21’s.
He made his debut for the under-21s against Belgium in March and has not looked back having featured in all over their matches including scoring against Croatia in the play-off for the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championships.
Unfortunately, his side missed out on qualification but having just turned 22 he is now no longer eligible to play for the under-21s which led to many speculating that he may be called up by Danish boss Kasper Hjulmand for their 26-man Qatar World Cup squad.
Under Ange Postecoglou recently, the former MK Dons midfielder has been filling in for Celtic captain Callum McGregor in a deeper playmaker role in midfield which he was recognised for having picked up a man of the match award against Shakhtar Donetsk in Celtic’s second last Champions League match.
Although he has yet to be capped at senior level for his international side he was still left frustrated at not being called up after having spoke to Hjulmand.
“I was really disappointed. I was close. I spoke with the manager and I think I was close,” said Matt O’Riley speaking to the Glasgow Evening Times.
“I think it was just a tiny bit soon for me by the sound of it. He was saying that the lead-up to this World Cup was quite a strange one. There weren’t a lot of training sessions before, so to integrate me would’ve been a bit difficult.
“So, I kind of understood that. Then again hopefully there are going to be more opportunities for me next year. If I keep my form and keep improving then hopefully I’ll be involved.
“The fact I got so close in a relatively short period of time is a definite positive. I know it will sound weird, but this rest will do me good too. I should be able to come back to a really good place. I’ve been lucky enough to stay fit so far for the season.
“I’ve played a lot of football. Just coming back fresh, I think will really help me to kick on again. To improve my level, even more, would be really good.”
The 22-year old is only going to just get better with more games as he continues to develop under Postecoglou. He has been a top player for the Hoops this season and will continue to be integral to the first team and it is likely that a senior call-up is not too far away.
He was not the only Celtic player left disappointed with World Cup selections as a few of his other Hoops teammates were also not called up by their sides which O’Riley reflected on.
“I felt for both of them. Selfishly, it’s probably a good thing for us. They’re going to come back fresh for the league, they’re not going to get injured or anything. We were all a bit confused, though, as they didn’t make it.
“Even Jota – I think he had a fair shout of going with Portugal. It’s a good thing that we were all close, it shows that we’re in a good position.
“Hopefully next year we can all be involved with our national teams.”